Alcohol in parks?
Toronto Star contributing columnist Matt Elliott suggests that restrictions on alcohol consumption in parks be lifted, as one response to the coronavirus ("Condos are shrinking and COVID-19 is less likely to spread outside. So why does Toronto still ban booze in parks?").
Like antiquated restrictions on alcohol sales within a certain distance from schools and churches (schools and churches generally are open at times when alcohol is not consumed, so why the restrictions?), it may be time to reconsider alcohol consumption limitations in parks.
Elliott points out that when marijuana was legalized in Toronto, the parks department changed the rules to allow it.
I'd argue against it, not on the grounds of legality, but because of the smell and second hand smoke, in keeping with initiatives to restrict cigarette smoking in parks and on trails (Smoke-Free Tobacco-Free Places Outdoors, Public Health Law Center).
Drinking in Public Montreal Style," TripSavvy).
The biggest problem with alcohol isn't consumption as much as it is the potential for overconsumption, big parties generally and out of control parties specifically.
In 2014, the Wall Street Journal ran an article, "Cities Want Young Families to Play and Stay: New Features Include Parks, Playgrounds and Beer Gardens," about the addition of more adult friendly amenities in parks as a way to better retain younger demographics. From the article:
Doug and Maureen Towne, who live in Phoenix with their children Autumn, 10, and Ben, 2, have long toyed with the idea of moving to the suburbs. Doug works in nearby Scottsdale. Maureen drives back and forth from the Scottsdale school where Autumn will be entering fifth grade. A move, says Ms. Towne, is "definitely tempting."
But for now they are staying put. One factor: plans for a $118 million redesign of the Margaret T. Hance Park, which is near their home. There will be a beer garden and restaurant; an 800-foot zip line for adults and children; splash parks with fountains for kids to cool off; and "playscapes" such as climbing walls with rocks and boulders. "If we stay, I know it's going to be great," Ms. Towne says. ...
HR&A consults with dozens of cities a year, and Ms. [Candace] Damon has noticed one element increasingly featuring in park design: German-style outdoor beer gardens. In the past year, a half-dozen parks she has consulted on have placed beer gardens at or near the top of the list of things the community wants, she says.
Ms. Damon says a beer garden is a playful element that isn't focused on children—but doesn't shun them either. Designs have included nearby play equipment, enough open spaces for running around, and low-key snacks and finger foods. "It's about creating a space where adults can gather with children, without having to be solely focused on taking care of the kids," she says.
The PHS program has multiple gardens, but mostly in the Center City.
The PHS program has sparked friendly competition. The Philadelphia Parks and Recreation Department/Fairmount Conservancy now offer a pop up program of their own, rotating through almost two dozen parks in a season.
Beer garden in the East Falls neighborhood.
Conclusion. The issue is whether or not alcohol is legal if you bring it yourself versus having to buy it to consume it, in more controlled settings, like a cordoned off beer garden.
How to do it management and regulatory-wise. I think the Montreal rule is reasonable, although probably difficult to enforce: (1) it's legal if you're eating and (2) I would add a limit on how many drinks can be consumed; and probably (3) restrictions on large groups and alcohol consumption; (4) unless specifically permitted. (5) Creating controlled beer gardens as an activation initiative is a separate issue.